By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
For the last two weeks, Isaac has asked me to read the same story every night- The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter. It is the story of Alia Muhammad Baker who saved all the books from her library just before the library was burned to the ground during the US bombing of the Iraq War. It ends with her dreaming of peace from her home filled with books from floor to ceiling. Each night, Isaac asks what happened to Alia? What happened to the books? We finally looked it up and they re-built the library and she is the librarian again with all the books and stories she held safe from our mass destruction.
I am not sure exactly why Isaac keeps picking this book, but there is a gentleness in his spirit as he listens. It inspires the prayers he says with Erinn later that night. It has shifted the way he sees books and libraries. And it has made him ask questions about the way he plays with kids at school and about the reality of violence. Stories matter. We are made up of stories and they in-part inspire how we see the world, how we live, and who we are.
I want my kids to be surrounded by an abundance of stories that rise off the page or out of the mouths of elders. I want them to imagine their own stories and to find them in their dreams.
With the help of Kate Foran, Julia Jack-Scott, Lucia Wylie-Eggert, Jonathan Stegall and many other folks who are readers of RadicalDiscipleship and nurturers of children, we have put together a resource of stories and history.
Rebels and Saints: A Perpetual Movement Calendar for Children is a calendar filled with social justice ancestors, movement moments, and days to remember. It is marked with the stunning woodcuts by Julia Jack-Scott and it has abundant space for each of us to write in our own Cloud of Witnesses and local struggles. It also includes a small book with some writing, some stories, and a list of recommended children’s books to accompany the calendar.
We have written, carved, edited, designed, and now we are waiting to hold it in our hands here in Detroit. Last year, we sold Advent reflection books to many of you, this year we offer this as a gift to walk together. It would be a great Christmas present.
I plan to give this to Isaac and Cedar for Christmas. I will pick one book each month to wrap up and together we will ritualize the remembrance by unwrapping the story and reading it.
You can purchase them HERE on the site. We have just opened the store and will keep it open until December 1. We will begin mailing them out on November 18. There are also a few other things available there as well.
I give thanks for the stories that have formed me, for the gift I have to work among stories on radicaldiscipleship.net, and for another chance to walk alongside one another reading stories to the children in our lives.
One thought on “Rebels and Saints”
I think that inspiring a love of reading is one of the best gifts we can give our children. When my kids were little I invented a holiday as an excuse for book-giving, always a book to grow with. (The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes inspired that, when Clare was a baby and I didn’t have money for books and needed a reason to buy it).
One of my happiest memories is the day Clare (who for years had on principle refused to read anything I recommended) asked what books I would suggest, and we went around the living room pulling books out about an inch so she could find them again.